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St. Clare health! - Summer 2014

Biofeedback Treatment

The Franciscan Chronic Pain Management Program at St. Clare Hospital utilizes biofeedback in the treatment of chronic pain, both in the Three to Four Week Intensive Program or on an individually arranged basis. A physician referral is required for biofeedback services.

What does the term biofeedback mean?
The term biofeedback is made up from two words: biological, meaning "life" and feedback for receiving information. A car speedometer is a familiar example of feedback.

How is biofeedback used in healthcare?
Biofeedback is a therapy that enables individuals to learn how to control their body's functioning. Biofeedback equipment measures physical functions, such as heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension, and hand temperature and feeds these measurements back to the individual by visual or audio means. This information, along with coaching from the therapist, helps people to learn how to change their physical functions. Biofeedback can be effective in improving health. For example, someone with high blood pressure could use biofeedback therapy to learn how to lower their blood pressure and reduce the use of medications.

How will biofeedback help me manage chronic pain?
People with chronic pain frequently tense their muscle in reaction to pain, which can add to the pain. Using the biofeedback equipment, students can learn to relax muscles, and manage their pain more effectively. Chronic stress and pain frequently leads to an upper chest breathing pattern that is not as efficient or as relaxing as diaphragmatic breathing. Biofeedback can be used to teach diaphragmatic breathing, which can help you relax during the day and sleep better at night.

What kind of equipment is used?
Biofeedback uses small electronic physiological measuring devices combine with computers to provide feedback about basic relaxation strategies such as diaphragmatic breathing. Or the equipment might be used to monitor muscle tension during activities such as sitting, standing, walking, and role-playing activities that are of interest to the student.

Skin temperature is also monitored with the computer Skin temperature is a reflection of relaxation. When an individual is relaxed, their hand temperature is generally warmer. When they are stressed, hand temperature tends to be cooler. Skin temperature can range from the mid 70's to the mid 90's. With biofeedback, students can learn to control their skin temperature.

Biofeedback is a safe procedure. Anyone can learn to control his or her physiology provided they are willing to do the assigned homework and work on their goals.